CDC coronavirus

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 increased to 10 in Floyd County after several weeks of what appeared to be a rise in positive asymptomatic cases.

The upward trend of new cases began a few weeks after Georgia began reopening, and the number of new Floyd County cases has increased consistently since. There were nine new cases reported on Thursday making a total of 79 new cases in the past seven days.

Floyd County Emergency Management Agency Director Tim Herrington reported 10 people were being treated in local hospitals as of Thursday morning.

The number of people being treated for the disease caused by the coronavirus hasn’t jumped drastically at this point. There were seven people being treated in local hospitals since June 21. Prior to that, there were nine people reported by the Floyd EMA.

But the number of people infected with COVID-19 in the hospital along with a large increase in cases could be following a national trend.

US virus cases near an all-time high as governors backtrack

The number of new coronavirus cases reported per day in the U.S. stood at more than 34,000 Thursday, just short of the all-time high reached in late April during some of the darkest and deadliest days of the crisis.

While greatly expanded testing probably accounts for some of the increase, experts say other measures indicate the virus is making a comeback. Daily deaths, hospitalizations and the percentage of tests that are coming back positive have also have been rising over the past few weeks in parts of the country, mostly in the South and West.

Amid the disturbing new signs, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has pursued one of the most aggressive reopening schedules in the nation, began to backtrack. And Nevada’s governor ordered the wearing of face masks in public, Las Vegas casinos included.

The U.S. recorded 34,500 COVID-19 cases Wednesday, slightly fewer than the day before but still near the high of 36,400 reached on April 24, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University. The daily average has climbed by more than 50% over the past two weeks, according to an Associated Press analysis.

Surge in deaths

Whether the rise in cases translates into an equally dire surge in deaths across the U.S. overall will depend on a number of factors, experts said — most crucially, whether government officials make the right decisions. Deaths per day in the U.S. number around 600 after peaking at about 2,200 in mid-April.

“It is possible, if we play our cards badly and make a lot of mistakes, to get back to that level. But if we are smart, there’s no reason to get to 2,200 deaths a day,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of Harvard’s Global Health Institute.

But he warned: “We have consistently underestimated this virus.”

In the past few weeks, the nation’s daily death toll has actually dropped markedly even as cases climbed, a phenomenon that may reflect the advent of treatments, better efforts to prevent infections at nursing homes, and a rising proportion of cases among younger adults, who are more likely than their elders to survive a bout with COVID-19.

As of Thursday there had been 15 reported deaths in Floyd County, but no fatalities since May 16.

Several states set single-day case records this week, including Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas and Oklahoma.

The U.S. has greatly ramped up testing in the past few months, and it is now presumably finding many less-serious cases that would have gone undetected earlier in the outbreak, when the availability of testing was limited and sicker people were often given priority.

But there are other more clear-cut warning signs, including a rising number of deaths per day in states such as Arizona and Alabama. Some states, including North and South Carolina, also broke hospitalization records.

New restrictions

As cases grow, some states are imposing new restrictions only weeks after lifting shutdowns.

In Texas, Abbott reimposed a ban on elective surgery in the biggest counties to preserve hospital space after the number of patients statewide more than doubled in two weeks. Several Houston hospitals said they are adding beds.

Abbott also put on hold any further reopenings.

“The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses,” the Republican said. “This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread.”

Some businesses are also backing off reopening.

Disney delayed its mid-July reopening of Disneyland until California gives further guidance.

As politicians try to strike a balance between public health and the economy, the government reported that the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week declined slightly to 1.48 million, indicating layoffs are slowing but are still painfully high.

The virus has been blamed for over 122,000 U.S. deaths — the world’s highest toll — and more than 2.3 million confirmed infections nationwide.

Worldwide, over 9.4 million people have been confirmed infected, and nearly a half-million have died, by Johns Hopkins’ count. Experts say the true infection numbers are much higher, in part because of limited testing.

“Globally, it’s still getting worse,” World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Jennifer Peltz and Carla Johnson of The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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